Wedgewood Park was our universe. Summer, winter, spring or fall: baseball, hockey, football, tag.
The park wasn’t all that big. About one quarter of a mile long and about half of that again wide. It was surrounded by suburbia on three sides with Wedgewood school and the playground filling out the eastern end: the same school that was the nemesis of Our Lady of Peace. We didn’t really care all that much for the stupidity of our parish rules and played there to our hearts content. Those rules weren’t God rules. They were man’s rules. I learned that bit of wisdom later on in life. Some of my bestest friends ever even went to that school although they were damned for life, so I thought. Hell was full of great guys. Damn! Hell was full of goodness!
The municipality really did a great job on that park. They laid out an area for skating at one end, which became a tennis court in the spring and summer, keeping the other end open for just about any game that could be imagined by our limitless imaginations: home run derby in the spring or summer months and touch football in the fall. On those rainy days that occurred from time to time we ventured out to play tackle, mud football. Didn’t really need to organize anything because a couple of kids playing football in the mud became a natural magnet that telepathically drew kids from all over the neighbourhood. Within a Nano second we had two teams going at it in a glorious bath of textured mud and goo. Great fun.
One of my fondest memories of those days was O’Grunt’s dad firing footballs passes to Sean and I. He had a canon for a foot as he would kick that football so high as to be almost lost in space. We did our best to try to catch it in the air but for the most part couldn’t. It wasn’t as if O’Grunt’s dad did it all that often with us. No, just a few times, but those few times that he did kick the ball with us was kind of magical and remains a permanent memory: clear, enduring and endearing in my brainbox. It was as if by our presence and participation that we received an acknowledgement from a grownup, from the adult world, that as kids we did exist and meant something. Yes it was magical. There in that small park with my best friend at the time, running hard, sweating, laughing, cajoling each other and taking turns trying to catch that iconic bit of pigskin.